As ever, this represents our estimation of Gareth Southgate’s thoughts. And we feel like we know him well. Numbers in brackets pertain to this ladder from October…

 

1 (2) Harry Kane
Twelve goals and five assists in eight qualifying games. His goal against Kosovo saw him become the first England player to score in every game of a qualifying campaign and it also took him back to the top of this ladder, mostly because he has never grabbed somebody by the throat in a canteen. Or at least he has never been caught grabbing somebody by the throat in a canteen.

 

2 (1) Raheem Sterling
Oh you daft bugger. There is no defending that. He is still England’s second-best source of goals and best source of running really fast and scaring the sh*t out of full-backs, mind.

 

3 (5) Harry Maguire
The only player to feature in all 720 minutes of European qualifying. And yet he still looks about half a second from dropping a bo**ock and a full second slower than most strikers he faces.

 

4 (4) Jordan Pickford
His place is safer than his hands.

 

5 (6) Marcus Rashford
Three goals in his last three England games as part of a really encouraging return to form. We would be astonished if Rashford is not in every England squad for which he is fit until the end of the next decade at least…

 

6 (3) Jordan Henderson
Two victories in his absence have damaged his cause a little, but it still feels like Henderson + 2 in that central midfield.

 

7 (7) Trent Alexander-Arnold
Remarkably, that’s the first time he has started back-to-back England games. Even more remarkably, ‘he’s yet to produce a performance for his country which doesn’t look like this one did – distracted, inaccurate, lacking in the locked-in intensity which seems as standard at Liverpool’ (and I absolutely agree with Seb Stafford-Bloor).

 

8 (10) Ben Chilwell
Perhaps those three assists against Montenegro – and solid defensive performance against Kosovo – will put an end to Gareth Southgate’s lingering and needless flirtation with Danny Rose. Chilwell is and should remain England’s first-choice left-back.

 

9 (18) Harry Winks
Six England caps, six England wins. And a goal and a man-of-the-match performance against Kosovo. It might well be Henderson, Winks + 1 with Declan Rice hopefully sidelined until he learns some of the basics of defensive midfield play.

 

10 (13) John Stones
‘Needs to play football. Absolutely needs to play football,’ is what I wrote last month. Now back in the Manchester City side and an England recall duly followed. 

 

11 (16) Nick Pope
Confirmation that he is England’s No. 2. And a clean sheet is lovely.

 

12 (17) Joe Gomez
What has become very clear is that Southgate has picked his four centre-halves and Gomez is on that list despite not playing a great deal of Premier League football. Luckily for him, Liverpool have an awful lot of games coming up. He might still be the big man.

 

13 (8) Jadon Sancho
His form has dipped for Borussia Dortmund
and he failed to pad his stats against Montenegro; just one assist from 90 minutes on the wing is not a compelling return from a 7-0 victory. Right now, he has slipped some way behind Rashford.

 

14 (15) Tyrone Mings
And there’s centre-half No. 4, who has (slightly awkwardly) claimed another cap and another clean sheet. He is literally the big man.

 

15 (9) Ross Barkley
It’s telling that he has played more minutes in this qualifying campaign than any other midfielder bar Henderson and yet almost nobody thinks he should start for England. Will he eventually be ejected like a stockier Ryan Bertrand? The initials are a clue.

 

16 (11) Declan Rice
As I wrote last month: ‘He is only 20, so there are caveats, but right now he looks far from good enough to anchor that England midfield. Still, we persuaded him not to be Irish anymore, so his squad place is probably safe for the foreseeable.’ We wanted him to be so much better than Eric Dier; he isn’t.

 

17 (12) Mason Mount
He has played a part in England’s last six games so he is clearly integrated into this England squad. Unfortunately for him, he has started twice and struggled twice. Fortunately, he can do this from the bench…

 

18 (14) Kieran Trippier
Called up but then left on the bench. It could be worse; he could be Kyle Walker.

 

19 (20) Tammy Abraham
His first England goal and confirmation – were it needed – that he is Southgate’s first-choice back-up to Kane.

 

20 (22) Fabian Delph
Even grown men need a comfort blanket. Let it go, people, let it go…

 

21 (19) Danny Rose
Clinging onto a place in the squad but for how long? Until Luke Shaw gets and stays fit, you should think. Right now, Rose is holding off Aaron Cresswell and Matt Targett in the battle to be the left-sided fireguard with the thinner chocolate coating.

 

22 (32) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Back-to-back England starts for the first time since March 2018, when he was set to start in England’s World Cup midfield before injury struck. “We’ve a huge belief in him,” said Southgate. “Whether it’s as a midfield player – where he’s excellent with or without the ball, provides a goalscoring threat, works hard for the team and presses well – or a wide player or a forward player, we’ve got huge belief in him.” And that versatility might well be what keeps in this 23 ahead of more vaunted competition.

 

23 (23) Tom Heaton
The old man completes the 23. For now.

 

24 (21) Callum Hudson-Odoi
Reclaimed and then lost his Chelsea place, while his 59 wasteful, hesitant minutes against Kosovo suggested that he might be better getting some more England experience with the Under-21s this season while he searches for his form.

 

25 (24) Callum Wilson
Nobody takes three strikers for a one-striker system. Especially when the third striker on the list has stopped scoring.

 

26 (26) James Maddison
Most chances created by Englishmen this season:
Trent Alexander-Arnold (42)
Jack Grealish (25)
James Maddison (24)
Mason Mount (23)
Raheem Sterling (22)

Sorry James, but we don’t think Gareth likes the cut of your gib. Or the gib of…

 

27 (35) Jack Grealish
Though at least Southgate hinted that Grealish could be the next cab off the attacking midfielder rank. That’s progress.

 

28 (25) Kyle Walker
Sip sliding away. Slip-sliding a-way.

 

29 (31) Fikayo Tomori
They definitely didn’t bring him on for a few minutes to claim him from Nigeria (oh yes they did). But most importantly for this ladder, he was in the squad ahead of the falling Michael Keane.

 

30 (30) Dean Henderson
England’s…No. 4. England’s, England’s No. 4.

 

31 (29) Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Clearly, Southgate is not a fan of a 90s-style full-back.

 

32 (34) Dele Alli
Back in the Tottenham side at least. Shame it’s a really poor Tottenham side.

 

33 (27) Michael Keane
We may never see him in an England shirt again.

 

34 (28) Jesse Lingard
We may never see him in an England shirt again.

 

35 (33) Eric Dier
We may never see him in an England shirt again.

 

36 (40) Phil Foden
We will surely see him in a (senior) England shirt soon, but first Pep Guardiola needs to give him more than Carabao Cup football.

 

37 (NE) Aaron Ramsdale
The Bournemouth goalkeeper is making a compelling case for a long-term battle with Henderson.

 

38 (36) Ruben Loftus-Cheek
Love the player, hate the injury.

 

39 (37) Luke Shaw
Love the player, hate the injury. And the body type.

 

40 (42) Dwight McNeil

 

41 (41) Rob Holding
42 (38) Angus Gunn
43 (39) Ryan Sessegnon
44 (43) Max Aarons
45 (NE) John Lundstram
46 (NE) Harvey Barnes
47 (44) Reiss Nelson
48 (45) James Tarkowski
49 (47) James Ward-Prowse
50 (50) Phil Neville

 

Sarah Winterburn

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Marcos Alonso insists Chelsea are still a work in progress, and there’s more to come under Frank Lampard, despite climbing into the top four.

Alonso’s goal 17 minutes from time secured a 1-0 win over Newcastle, the Blues’ fifth consecutive victory in all competitions.

The Spaniard hailed the improvement under new boss Lampard but insists there is still more to come.

“We have many options in the team and this is good. The team is getting better, we are improving game by game and we need to continue in this way,” Alonso told the club website.

“We are moving the ball quickly, our press is good and we are doing a good job as a team. We have clear ideas and we have to continue in this way.

“It was very important to win after the international break. We played with a lot of patience and at the end we got the goal, we kept grafting and got a good reward.

“It’s a new season with new staff and there’s room for improvement but since the beginning we have improved a lot. We need to keep focused on each game and work hard in training.”

 

 

Defeat was harsh on Newcastle, who dropped back into the bottom three, and manager Steve Bruce saw plenty of reasons for optimism.

The Magpies now face a run of more favourable fixtures, with a visit from Wolves next up followed by a trip to West Ham and matches against Bournemouth and Aston Villa.

Bruce said: “We’ve had a really difficult start in terms of who we’ve played – we’ve played Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and now Chelsea, and we’ve been away to Leicester. We’ve had a really tough start.

“The way the players went about their jobs, and their effort and commitment, I couldn’t have faulted.

“We looked a threat on the break, and if we can be a bit more careful with the final pass, then of course the big thing is we have to find some goals.

“But, certainly in the first half in particular, we looked a threat.”

 

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Michael Owen has questioned Manchester United’s links to Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson after allowing Romelu Lukaku to leave in the summer, suggesting that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has “knowingly weakened his team”.

Lukaku was offloaded to Inter for £75 million, with Solskjaer deeming the Belgium international and Alexis Sanchez to be surplus to requirements at Old Trafford.

With United’s well documented issues with scoring goals – again on show in their 0-0 draw with AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League – there has been speculation suggesting Callum Wilson could be drafted in in January.

Owen has suggested they may as well have retained the services of Lukaku and Sanchez.

He told BT Sport: “You have to see progress, you have to see the right type of player being brought in that actually goes down this philosophy.

“If they don’t buy young players, English players, whatever that might be, that’s actually along the lines of what we’re talking, then it really is a worry.

“People like Wilson from Bournemouth are being linked at the moment.

“Now, if a lad in his late 20s, who’s a very good player, in the England squad, no problem with him, very good player.

“But if that’s where you’re going to go back to, then all of a sudden I’m thinking ‘what’s the point in getting rid of Lukaku?’.”

Owen has accused Solskjaer of purposefully weakening the Man Utd squad, in an attempt to take the club back to square one.

The ex-Red Devils striker added: “In many ways Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has knowingly weakened his team.

“Getting rid of people like Lukaku and [Ander] Herrera and [Matteo] Darmian and Sanchez, [Chris] Smalling – he knows that he could improve his team with those players.

“But I think he’s almost taken the view that you’ve got to take a couple of steps backwards to then move forwards.

“[Solskjaer] has done that on purpose thinking ‘right, we’ve just got to rid ourselves of players that, okay they’re probably better than what we’ve got, but are they going to take us to where we want to go?’ – and that answer is no.

“Then you’re almost starting from scratch and I think that’s what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s done.”

 

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No, it wasn’t a penalty. Jose Callejon clearly initiated contact with Andy Robertson and, unfortunately, neither the referee nor the VAR were able – or willing – to correct their decision.

But the incident still characterised the tone of Liverpool’s performance. They were slack and ever so slightly complacent. They had good moments and promised goals at different points of the game, but Roberson’s wifty challenge was indicative of an attitude which wasn’t quite what it should have been. Not that he deserves a flogging, because he remains overwhelmingly in credit, but any modern defender knows that if you dangle a leg out like that then, most likely, someone will take an opportunist tumble.

So two conclusions, both of which are true: Liverpool were done by the referee, but they also paid the price for a lack of a mental sharpness.

That showed in different facets of the game. For the penalty, of course, and that strange Virgil van Dijk mistake which Fernando Llorente turned into a second goal, but also in their uncommon inaccuracy at the other end of the pitch.

If the game had an emblem, then it would be that, in particular the mess Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah made of that second-half counter. The pass Mane tried to play was far harder than it looked, but it was still the kind of opportunity that this team – and those players – habitually exploit week after week.

In fact, as that move was developing, who didn’t think it was destined to end with the ball in the net and one of those players wheeling away in celebration?

In a way, that’s a measure of the respect that Jurgen Klopp’s side now command. They are usually so precise and so ruthless that when that killer quality is missing, it provokes incredibly harsh criticism.

And it is harsh, because there was plenty of good in that performance. Collectively, because it was far superior to what Liverpool offered in Naples a year ago. But also individually: Sarah Winterburn has already written about a very fine Fabinho display, and there were notable showings from, among others, Jordan Henderson and Adrian.

Still, let’s not lose sight of what Napoli are. Serie A is just three games old, but Carlo Ancelotti’s side began their season by conceding three goals in both of their first two games – to Juventus and Fiorentina – and, while they kept a clean sheet at the weekend, that fragility was definitely in evidence last night. Kalidou Koulibaly is a brilliant defender, but he is not part of a brilliant defence; if Napoli survive the group, they’ll be eliminated by the first efficient side they face.

So this was a game Liverpool should have won. That they lost isn’t cause for any alarm, but it has created a degree of uncertainty within a group which should have been straightforward. On the evidence of what they did to Genk, nobody should be looking forward to playing RB Salzburg, either.

It’s important because Klopp’s players could do with making the first part of their Champions League defence as processional as possible. They’ve already established a handy lead back home, but Manchester City will inevitably improve and, when that happens, Liverpool will need to match their power. The ideal scenario, then, would have been to have this group won within three or four games, not for it to remain in the balance.

Not incidentally, that visit to Salzburg is scheduled for December 10 which, television permitting, will come six days after the first Merseyside derby of the season and three days on from an awkward looking trip to Bournemouth. The likely legacy of defeat in Naples will probably be that Liverpool have to enter that stadium, with its feverish atmosphere, needing a result to secure top spot or, worse, qualification itself.

In isolation, nothing which happened on Tuesday night was too significant. However, with the knowledge that Liverpool’s ability to achieve their season’s objectives will partly depend on how easy they make life for themselves and how much leeway they can create throughout their season, it was an inconvenient, avoidable and irritating mishap. A game that they could afford to lose – this morning’s Mailbox is absolutely right about that, but one which would have been very useful to win.

Seb Stafford-Bloor is on Twitter

 

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When does Liverpool v Arsenal kick off?

It’s the late kick-off on Saturday 24 August, so kick-off is at 5.30pm UK time.

Where can I watch Liverpool v Arsenal on TV?

The match is live on Sky Sports, so it will be screened on both Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League.

Build-up starts from 5pm on both channels, and if you don’t have Sky Sports you can get a Now TV pass to enjoy their coverage for one day only.

The match is also being broadcast live by the likes of beIN Sports, SuperSport, and NBCSports, so international viewers will certainly not be short of options.

Who is the referee for Liverpool v Arsenal?

Anthony Taylor is the man charged with keeping order at Anfield, and he’s a man with some history in the fixture.

He officiated in April 2015 when Arsenal won 4-1 at the Emirates, and he sent off Liverpool’s Emre Can late in the game.

Last season he took charge of Liverpool just three times. He was the man in the middle when they lost at Manchester City, but also for their home wins against West Ham and Bournemouth.

He refereed Arsenal seven times during 2018/19, including their 1-1 derby draw with Tottenham.=

Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn will assist Taylor, with Jon Moss the fourth official.

Meanwhile, the man hoping he won’t be the most controversial man involved is Stuart Attwell, who will be the man in the VAR hotseat.

What is the Premier League history of Liverpool v Arsenal

In a word: goals.

The fixture, particularly at Anfield, is the most consistently high-scoring one in Premier League history.

Last season, Liverpool won the corresponding match 5-1. The season before that was a 4-0 win for the Merseysiders, and the one before that was a 3-3 draw.

The most famous, or infamous, meeting between these two teams since the start of the Premier League in 1992 was their Anfield clash in 2009.

It finished 4-4, with the mercurial Andrey Arshavin scoring all four goals for the Gunners.

What is the team news ahead of Liverpool v Arsenal?

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker was injured in the Reds’ opening game of the season at Norwich, and his calf injury is expected to keep him out of this one too.

That means that deadline-day signing Adrian will continue, with 35-year-old veteran Andy Lonergan to provide the cover.

Full-back Nathaniel Clyne and Naby Keita are also still sidelined for Jurgen Klopp’s troops.

Arsenal could welcome Granit Xhaka back into the fold after he missed the win over Burnley with a back injury. That is likely to be the only change to the side that won at Turf Moor, with mystery still surrounding the availability of Mesut Ozil due to security concerns.

Hector Bellerin, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Kieran Tierney are all some way off fitness, although Rob Holding is back training again.

 

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Aston Villa have announced the permanent signing of Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings.

Mings joined Villa on loan for the second half of last season and helped the club earn promotion to the Premier League following a 2-0 victory over Derby in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final.

The defender has signed a three-year contract at Villa Park and PA understands the fee is an initial £20million – which is now irrelevant. Bournemouth confirmed the transfer broke their club record for a fee received for a player.

Mings made 18 appearances during his loan spell as Villa ended their three-year exile from England’s top flight.

He was Bournemouth’s first Premier League signing in June 2015, but a series of serious injuries limited him to just 22 appearances in all competitions for the Cherries.

Mings becomes boss Dean Smith’s sixth signing of the summer, joining fellow loanees Kortney Hause and Anwar El Ghazi in completing permanent moves to the club, alongside new recruits Jota, Wesley Moraes and Matt Targett at Villa Park.

Smith said on Villa’s official Twitter account: “He will be an integral part of the squad for the new season and I look forward to working with him and helping to further develop his game.”

The 26-year-old wrote on his account: “Absolutely delighted to be back as a permanent @AVFCOfficial player.

“Thank you for all your welcoming messages. I can’t wait to get started.”

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These are the 12 most expensive players who were uncapped when they made their big move…

 

12) Alex Pritchard (Norwich to Huddersfield, £12m)
The midfielder joined Town in January 2018 for anything between £10million and £14million, depending on who you believe. So we have split the difference. “I think it will be the right club for me,” Pritchard said at the time. “Just the way they play football and the togetherness of the team is a perfect fit for me.” Less than a season and a half later, the 26-year-old is heading back to the Championship – passing his former club on the way down – with a different manager who is clearly yet to be convinced by the midfielder.

Pritchard was an inconsistent presence in Town’s XI last season and Jan Siewert shifted him into a wide position for Town’s last few matches in the top flight as part of his experimentation for their next campaign. Pritchard did well on the right against Manchester United but, in fairness, this was his opposition…

 

11) Lloyd Kelly (Bristol City to Bournemouth, £13m)
The England Under-21 full-back became the sixth £10million-plus signing in the space of a year for little Bournemouth, who apparently fended off interest from Liverpool and Arsenal for the Bristol City academy graduate.

That’s presumably because Kelly has been promised a regular place in Eddie Howe’s first XI next season, either on the left or in the centre of the Cherries’ defence. City boss Lee Johnson, who has been very vocal in his praise for a ‘Rolls Royce of a player’ reckons the 20-year-old will become a centre-back in the long term but, initially, Kelly will fight with Charlie Daniels and Diego Rico for the left-back spot. “I genuinely think he’ll play for England at senior level,” said Johnson, though many thought that about Jordon Ibe. Speaking of whom…

 

10) Jordon Ibe (Liverpool to Bournemouth, £15m)
“It was a tough one but I needed to think what was best for me, which is playing, and when you scale it up, Liverpool and Bournemouth are fighting for the same things,” Ibe told The Times in 2016 in an interview which has not stood the test of time at all well. “Liverpool are not in the Europa League so would it really make a difference? And I would have more chances to play at Bournemouth than Liverpool so it doesn’t really matter.”

Three years later, Ibe has three Premier League goals while starting only nine Premier League matches last season. Liverpool are faring rather better…

 

9) Sam Clucas (Hull City to Swansea City, £15m)
The Swans signed Clucas for an eye-watering figure without really having an idea of where they might play him. The former Mansfield, Chesterfield and Hull utility player was a victim of his own versatility to a certain extent but justification of his fee was barely evident in his performances – unless Arsenal were the opponents – during one miserable season at the Liberty Stadium.

Upon relegation, it seemed like Clucas might stay in the Premier League with a move to Burnley on the cards until the Clarets refused to budge over personal terms. Swansea eventually clawed back £6million of their investment when Stoke took the 28-year-old off their hands. Once he recovered from knee surgery – by which time a third of the season had passed – Clucas became a Potters regular in the Championship, but he seems to have most to lose should Nathan Jones sign Nick Powell from Wigan.

 

8) Ben Gibson (Middlesbrough to Burnley, £15m)
Joe Hart was Burnley’s headline signing last summer but Gibson was the most expensive. Neither worked. Hart is desperate for another move this summer while Gibson just wants a taste of the action.

The centre-back, once called up for the England senior squad in 2017, currently has a goal-a-game record with Burnley owing to his strike in a 5-1 defeat at Everton on Boxing Day, his only Premier League appearance so far for Burnley. A hernia problem at the start of the season didn’t help but Dyche obviously saw nothing in training from his joint-record signing to tempt him to break up the Ben Mee-James Tarkowski partnership.

 

7) Calum Chambers (Southampton to Arsenal, £16m)
Half a decade after the then-19-year-old joined Arsenal, we still don’t know if he fits into the Gunners’ plans. Probably not. For two of the last three seasons, he has been shipped out on loan to Middlesbrough and Fulham with both sides being relegated. Which is probably just a coincidence.

Moving to Arsenal was enough to earn Chambers an England cap – three in fact – under Roy Hodgson. Three years after his senior debut, Chambers was playing for the Under-21s at the 2017 Euros.

 

6) Harry Maguire (Hull City to Leicester City, £17m)
It seemed steep at the time but, two years later, Leicester are set to make close to a five-fold return on Craig Shakespeare’s investment. That is if they sell Maguire, which they should only do if they receive an offer too good to turn down. And if that comes from Manchester United, would the 20-cap England defender be better off staying where he is?

The Foxes could finish above United next term…

 

5) Andre Gray (Burnley to Watford, £18.5m)
‘If you want a striker to score some – but not many – goals against bad defences but look worrying blunt against other sides, Gray’s your man. For £18.5m.’ we wrote upon the striker’s big move to Watford in 2017.

Two seasons on, not much has changed. Gray netted five goals in his first season at Vicarage Road and seven last term, most of which he watched from the bench amid only 13 starts. Troy Deeney is more likely to win a full cap than the former England C striker.

 

4) Alfie Mawson (Swansea to Fulham, £20m)
The centre-back was considered something of a bargain when the Cottagers won the race for a 24-year-old who four months previously had been called up by Gareth Southgate without getting on the pitch against Italy. But like the rest of his Fulham team-mates, Mawson had a stinking 2018-19.

Injuries offer the former Barnsley and Swansea defender some mitigation. But the fact Mawson has had surgery on the same knee twice in the space of a year, the last occasion after injuring himself while changing his boots, will caution some Premier League clubs who might be looking to rescue him from Fulham’s sinking ship.

 

3) James Maddison (Norwich to Leicester, £22.5m)
Leicester are pretty good at this. Maddison might not fetch quite as much as Maguire but the attacking midfielder would still earn the Foxes a three-fold return. Not that they want to sell or that he wants to leave after only a year at the King Power Stadium.

But what a year! The 22-year-old was the only player in the Premier League to create 100 chances so it is no wonder half of the Big Six are sniffing. Gareth Southgate is rather harder to impress, evidently.

 

2) Jordan Pickford (Sunderland to Everton, £25m)
Everton’s record signing had yet to win a senior cap when Everton made him their record signing in 2017 but two years later, Pickford has 19 of them, having established himself as Southgate’s undisputed No.1.

That doesn’t mean he’s everyone’s cup of tea. ‘There’s just too much going on,’ wrote Winty last week. ‘While Gareth Southgate is trying to engender an era of calm, smooth, possession football – and failing, because of various reasons outlined below – Pickford is getting his rave on. Every game. All game.’

But Everton would still double their money if they took Pickford to market and the England gloves look to be his for the foreseeable future.

 

1) Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace to Manchester United, £50m)
Here comes Wan-Bissaka, blowing everyone out of the water with his big move to Old Trafford.

When a young player moves to United or any big club, a first cap rarely follows far behind. But Wan-Bissaka has a lot of competition for the right-back spot in Gareth Southgate’s senior squad, with Kieran Trippier being squeezed out by Kyle Walker and Trent Alexander-Arnold this summer.

Wan-Bissaka went instead with the Under-21s to the European Championships, where he did his cause little good on Aidy Boothroyd’s watch. A 95th-minute own goal in the opening defeat to France led to Boothroyd dropping the 21-year-old, claiming the United target had “had his head turned”. Which the manager apparently didn’t spot before the defeat… just another thing to add to Boothroyd’s charge sheet.

Ian Watson

 

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